Crowning a 2018-2019 MACtion Champion

The shining moment for the MAC the past year was without a doubt the Akron Zips getting to the national championship game in men’s soccer. Even with the 1-0 loss to Maryland, it was an incredible season for any MAC program.

The Buffalo Bulls rolling the Arizona State Sun Devils in the NCAA Basketball National Tournament’s second round was a fun watch. The Central Michigan Chippewas beat the Miami Hurricanes in their opening game in the baseball national tournament.

The MAC had a good year. Who had the best year?

The Sun Belt awards the Vic Bubas Cup to the school with the best all around season based on their own scoring system. I created my own scoring system that turned out to be remarkably similar to what the Sun Belt does. I didn’t know how close I was when I put it all together, but it’s nice to know my plan isn’t too weird.

Scoring Outline

The scoring system is:

  • The total participants plus one, minus the teams rank is the amount of points available to win for regular season standings. First place in a full participation sport is worth 12 points.
  • If there aren’t regular season standings, the points come from the conference championship event.
  • When there are divisions, the team records are viewed as if there aren’t divisions and ranked.
  • If there is a conference tournament or championship game and season standings, the winner gets the number of teams divided by three rounded down to the nearest whole number.
  • If there is a tie the teams both get the same amount of points and the next number is skipped. Example: Two teams tie for third in a full participation sport. Both get ten points and the next team gets eight.

When I was figuring out how to weight this so things were balanced correctly, I looked at it a couple different ways.

Does this system work?

Does the increase in participation carry the weight I want it to with this point system? Yes. Each team added is not a linear progression in weight.

This makes the full or high participation sports far more valuable than the low participation sports. That feels right. If an athletic director were to make it a goal to win an award like this or the Vic Bubas Award, focus on the heavy hitters.

Do women’s sports get a points edge? They pretty much have to with a football conference and Title IX. When scholarships are even for men and women and football alone offers 85 per team, there are more universities fielding teams for women’s sports across the board for women’s sports in the MAC.

The max points available per team is shown below. Women’s sports have 8 of the top 11 spots but overall this feels right.

Men can win 107 points if they were to win all sports and tournaments and women could win 118 by doing the same. I am crowning a champion based on the total points earned. I looked at some other ways like percentage of points possible earned, but ultimately thought everyone is close enough. The champ should be by raw points.

Redhawks are the Champion

Miami won 4 conference titles or tournament wins this season and are the MACtion Champion. They cleaned up in the fall sports when they won men’s cross country and field hockey. They finished third in women’s cross country, second in volleyball, and surprisingly third in football.

With only MAC games being taken into consideration, the Redhawks beat both other 6-2 football teams. Miami also collected championships in men’s swimming and diving and women’s tennis.

Some Other Notes

Akron actually won the most championships this year with 5. They swept outdoor track, won men’s indoor track, women’s swimming and diving, and men’s soccer. Matt Ludwig took 4th in the nation in the indoor pole vault event for the Zips indoor track team. He is a former national champion in the outdoor championships.

Eastern Michigan had strong showings across the board and came in second overall. Eastern only had four finishes in the bottom half of the conference all season. Spring was their undoing. They entered the season trailing by 3 points to Miami and Miami turned it on. Miami had one extra result in the spring. EMU controversially ended their softball and women’s tennis teams to trim the budget before this season.

Kent State dominated men’s and women’s golf and came in third overall. Buffalo made the national tournament in men’s and women’s basketball and each won their opening game. Buffalo did the same thing in 2018. The basketball program in Buffalo is on roll.

Not all varsity teams are counted

Some of the schools have non MAC affiliated sports. Akron offers a men’s and women’s rifle team. Andre Gross finished second in the nation in the smallbore event. Akron is also adding a women’s lacrosse team in 2019-20.

Ball State has a men’s volleyball team. Central Michigan and Kent State have women’s lacrosse teams. Eastern Michigan has a women’s rowing team. They took third in the Colonial Athletic Association event.

Miami has a synchronized skating team that are national champions after the US Figuring Skating Nationals event. This is not an NCAA event but they carry a varsity team in the sport.

Miami, Western Michigan, and Bowling Green each have a men’s hockey team.

In 2019-20, wrestling will add 7 affiliate programs to the sport. Bloomsburg, Clarion, Edinboro, Lock Haven, Rider, George Mason and Cleveland State will join the other eight schools to make up the MAC this coming season.

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